Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stand Up or Stand in Line

Stand Up or Stand in Line
With reservations, I “shared” this picture last night on Facebook.  The part of me that clicked share did so because I agreed that Christian religions (Catholicism included) at this time are focusing too much on issues not mentioned or vaguely mentioned and ignoring direct orders from the big guy himself.  Helping the poor was one of the orders and this picture pointed it out loud and clear.  

The reservations didn’t come crystal clear to me until I literally slept on it. I woke up thinking of it this morning (pretty heavy for a FB picture).  Basically, I thought of this picture and said to myself, “Well, what have you done lately?” 

This picture is taken at the St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia that serves hundreds of guests a day with food and spiritual nourishment.  Next door, the Catholic Workers run a free health clinic (and they are looking for dentists if anyone knows anyone to volunteer).  On a typical day, 300-400 children, families, Senior Citizens and Veterans stand in line for a meal and some human interaction. I spent a glorious, challenging, life changing and life giving year here in a volunteer program after college.  Then when I had my first job and my first apartment in a big scary city, this place became my safe haven. When I taught high school students, I brought them here to see what the Holy Spirit in action looked like.Where you stand in line matters.  
Now my life seems a million miles away from this as I sit here with a bright yellow envelope staring at me on my desk.  I’ve been meaning to put a check in it, send it off to Philly  and give a little back to the place that gave me so much.   I supposed the $50 my husband and I spent on dinner last night would have fit nicely in it.  We didn’t eat at Chick-fil-A.  I can tell myself that it was a local restaurant run by a good family that I’ve seen time and time again give back to the community. All that is true, but they also have great beers and a Lobster pizza to die for.  After being at work on Friday an hour and a half longer than the rest of the building, that was my main priority.  

And maybe it’s silly to sit on Facebook and “un-like” a page and rant about cheap chicken places that hate.  Maybe even sillier to blog about it. But I really wanted to look into both sides of it so last night, I went to a FB page of an old high school friend who was talking about this issue based on her Christian beliefs.  She shared an opinion piece called Ben and Jerry’s, Chick-Fil-A, and Political Correctness.  It’s a rational, Christian perspective, that often gets drowned out by the scandal crazed media version of the Christian perspective.  This writer is far more conservative than I, but I appreciated some of his arguments.  The author wisely noted that if we believe in Christianity we must know that we all sin and that many sins are condemned in the same passage as some believe homosexuality is.  The line I appreciated the most was

 “however, for too long the church has seemed to be obsessed with the sins that we do not struggle with; after all, if I am pointing out the sins of others I don’t have to deal with my own.”   

With a sinking feeling, I realized the picture I posted was me pointing fingers at the sins of others, while sitting on my butt eating a Lobster Pizza.   I don’t know what all those people in line did with their day.  Maybe they just finished up folding clothes at the thrift store their church runs for the poor.  Maybe they served meals at their local soup kitchen or handed out lunches in the park to kids who go without when school is not in session.  Perhaps they visited the sick in a hospital or cleaned the house of someone is currently too sick to do so.  Maybe they sat on their butts all day until it was time for the big ol’ chicken rally. I can’t possibly know what those people standing in line did, I can only know what I do.  I can only make sure I do enough.

But then the next article I read absolutely haunted me.  The title is The Chick Fellatio: stuck in thecraw and I promise this is the last article I’ll make you read (seriously go read it now).  The author points out that boycotting a chicken place does matter because of where the money goes.  In this case, to the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation.  These two organizations actively condemn and seek to criminalize homosexuality, regardless of their feel good titles.  The criminalization of homosexuality and condemnation of homosexuals is frightening in this country and something we Northerns do not fully understand.  Kind of like Jim Crow Laws. 

 He makes a strong argument against the belief that those on the side of gay marriage are acting intolerant of Christianity and the line that stands out them most to me is:

“But what are you guilty of? When you see a bully beating up a smaller kid and you don’t take a side, then you ARE taking a side. You’re siding with the bully. And when you cheer him on, you’re revealing something about your own character that really is a shame.”

Then he says this:

“If things were reversed, I’d stand up for you.”

As someone who truly tries to stand up for those who can’t, this line haunts me.  Our country falls apart the day we stop standing up for each other.  When we stop protecting each other from the bullies on the playground, whether it’s that kid who calls your friend a fag, spewing his parent’s hateful words or Mega Corporations that are spewing millions of dollars against a single group of people.  While the scale changes the issue remains the same. What you stand up for matters.

Something I need to keep telling myself:

Stand up or stand in line.  

Stand up for those that have no voice or could use yours to strengthen theirs.

 Stand in line with those in need volunteering your time and energy in your community. 

Or, do both. 

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